Jennifer Michael Hecht

None of us can truly know what we mean to other people, and none of us can know what our future self will experience. History and philosophy ask us to remember these mysteries, to look around at friends, family, humanity, at the surprises life brings — the endless possibilities that living offers — and to persevere.

New York Times Bestselling Author

Philosopher, Historian, Award-winning Poet




Jennifer Michael Hecht writes delightfully tricky poems that wildly bend the sense of our language as they swerve back and forth between the realms of the colloquial and the absurd. The result of these maneuvers is The Next Ancient World - a deconstructed soap-opera, a one-hundred-ring verbal circus, a gang of brazen, ingenious poems.
— Billy Collins
A magisterial book… Hecht’s poetical prose beautifully dramatizes the struggle between belief and denial…The breadth of this work is stunning…Writing with acute sensitivity, Hecht draws the reader toward personal reflection on some of the most timeless questions ever posed.
Publisher’s Weekly review of Doubt: A History

Jennifer Michael Hecht is a poet, historian, and commentator. She is the author of the bestseller Doubt: A History, a history of religious and philosophical doubt all over the world, throughout history. Her newest book is Stay: A History of Suicide and the Arguments Against It (Yale University Press, 2013). Her The Happiness Myth (HarperOne, 2007), brings a historical eye to modern wisdom about how to lead a good life.  Hecht’s The End of the Soul: Scientific Modernity, Atheism, and Anthropology won Phi Beta Kappa’s 2004 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award “For scholarly studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity.”  Her books have been translated into many languages. She is now writing, The Wonder Paradox (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), a guide to using poetry to find meaning, invoke awe, and rest in some clarity of mind.

Publisher’s Weekly called her poetry book, Funny, “One of the most original and entertaining books of the year.”  Her first book of poetry, The Next Ancient World, won three national awards, including the Poetry Society of America’s First Book award for 2001. Her most recent poetry book is Who Said (Copper Canyon, 2013). Hecht has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, Vox, Poetry, and The New Yorker. She holds a Ph.D. in the history of science/European cultural history from Columbia University (1995) and has taught in the MFA program at Columbia University and the New School in New York City.

Hecht has also published in peer-reviewed journals, including: The Journal of the History of Ideas, Isis: Journal of the History of Science Society, French Historical Studies, The Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, and has delivered lectures at Harvard, Yale, MIT, Cal Tech, Columbia University as well as The Zen Mountain Monastery, Temple Israel, Saint Bart’s Episcopal Church, and other institutions of learning and introspection. Hecht has been featured on many radio programs, including On Being with Krista Tippet, Leonard Lopate Show, the BBC, Speaking of Faith, Talk of the Nation, and Brian Lehrer. She has appeared on Hardball on MSNBC, the Discovery Channel, and The Morning Show. She lectures widely.



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